"It's just been really creatively liberating to me," Urban said. "I love collaborating. It's the thing I've always loved doing, whether it's writing or performing or being in the studio, I love the collaborative process. I think finding people's strengths is the thing I love the most."
That sensation is what would bring him back to "Idol," if asked. It's one that sustained him through a difficult season that culminated with the Fox singing contest's lowest ratings and the departures of original judge Randy Jackson and lightning rod Nicki Minaj.
"I did as much as I could in the environment we had," Urban said of the judges. Yet he was able to find some satisfaction working with the contestants: "I love artists. I love the beginnings of artists when all they've got is raw talent and nothing else. They've got no star power, just nothing going on but just this raw talent that's just beautiful to see, and you look at them and just go, 'All you're needing is life experience ... because you've got everything else ready to go.'"